Early in the morning, Jesus came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and taught them...
Here is Jesus asserting himself as teacher and many gave him an audience. He is in the middle of several teaching opportunities and confrontations with the religious leaders during the time of the Festival of Shelters, a time of celebration and gratitude by the Jewish nation. He had hesitated to go at first, because he knew he was a marked man, but in his own time he went. And in his own time, he took his seat and began teaching. In the middle of the feast. In full view of the crowds and the religious elite.
After a couple of days of this, the religious leaders vacillated between awe and feeling threatened, so they plotted a public entrapment:
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and placing her in the midst of the crowd, they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery..."
While they sought to condemn her, their real intention was to trick Jesus into some heresy or blasphemy by which they could have some charge to bring against him (vs 6). As Jesus has been demonstrating his power and authority to set the standard in his teaching, the religious authorities recognized the power he held and wanted to subvert it, if possible.
I love how he was clever enough to not be tricked by their obvious question: "Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. What do you say?"
Jesus turns it into a judgment on the Pharisees and scribes: turning the condemnation they tried to exert onto the woman, instead, onto themselves. Jesus calls out the real perpetrators of the crime in this case: male, religious, a patriarchal and misogynist culture. He knows that the woman is a victim of gender placement in the minority culture of womanhood. He has compassion for her.
"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."
There it is! Busted! The condemned cannot condemn others. Jesus didn't judge them, he let them judge themselves. He let them own their truth about their own positional righteousness (or lack thereof).
One by one, they slipped away. How many of them might have actually used this sex slave, as all prostitutes are? How many of them realized the eyes that were on them from the crowd, who had also bore the religious elite's high-minded judgments?
Remember the marginalized and how their victim status might be perpetuated by your own actions. Be careful how you judge others: it could be the standard by which you are judged. It's time we all came clean and told the truth about ourselves, at least to ourselves.